Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My First Large Quilt on the New Machine!!

Posting pics of my FMQ effort this week on my "Love in Bloom" quilt!

I used Leah's methodology of quadrant quilting, which worked exceptionally well on this quilt.  (This is my first quilt I've completely machine quilted using FMQ techniques taught by Leah.  The new machine has a large enough harp to easily accommodate a large quilt.  Thanks, Leah, for your tips & teachings. )

Hearts & Echoes


More FMQ Hearts & Echoes
I'm very impressed with the Janome 7700's capabilities.

I might also offer this tip - I gave up the chair in front of my sewing machine over 3 months ago.  I sit on my giant exercise ball, which allows my butt to swivel while I sew and quilt.  All my backaches, shoulder aches, and related issues have disappeared as well as increasing the time I spend in front of the machine.  I'm just sayin....
I am rethinking the placement of my Ott light and am considering moving it to the right of the machine.  It did get in the way of this larger quilt at times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh, What a Week!

Well, I totally failed the FMQ Project homework; I didn't stitch two blocks together all week.

However, I have been busy piecing and quilting a couple of new projects.
New Easter Table Runner (WIP)

With Plenty of Handwork.....

Plus I worked last weekend on another project for my daughter....
Almost Done
It's difficult to see, but this wall hanging is about 1/3 FMQ'd with stippling.  I tried to use a polyester thread on my Brother PS1000, which I've used for all my other FMQ projects.  (Why do I try something new on a real project!!???)  The thread was giving me fits!  Absolutely ready to throw the sewing machine through the window and go back to gardening 100%.

So I talked to DH, and we discussed a new machine.  I told him I'd done my homework - I've asked questions, read blogs, read reviews, I was ready to test drive a new machine.  Since I live in podunk Kingman, AZ, the nearest place to test drive a new machine was Henderson (Las Vegas), Nevada.  So, I asked my friend, Olive, who lives near me and is my quilting mentor, to ride along and provide thoughts and input.  (She was more than happy to spend someone else's money, she said!)

This is what I brought home with me......
Woot!  Woot!  Happy Birthday to Me!!! (and Happy Easter, Happy Memorial Day, Happy 4th of July, etc. etc. etc.)
I expect the quality of my FMQ to improve d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c-a-l-l-y over the next few months.  My DH has put the burden of own-ness on me to pay our tithes to the church on my purchase out of the household budget.  Looks like tortillas and beans for a couple months, honey!  Thank You, Sweetie!

No more handwork!  I have an applique mode on this baby that will take care of that!

Friday, February 17, 2012

and Gardening Too!

I have a friend, Beth, who's had a hothouse in her backyard for quite some time.  When she initially got it, she was disappointed because the big black tubs began folding in half in the frames.  Mind you, it gets exceptionally hot here in AZ during the summer, which I thought was likely the culprit.  But the manufacturer informed her she needed to completely fill the tubs with soil to ensure they wouldn't collapse.

So, this past November/December we decided to give the hothouse a try.  We re-energized the existing soil and added new soil where needed.  The results have been spectacular!  We even have peas that have begun to sprout and climb on their trellis.  We've cut and cut and cut lettuce and have now begun supplying Valle Vista friends with fresh lettuce and spinach:

Our First Crop of Lettuce - Very Abundant!


Spring Onions and Beets ... nom nom nom!

Kale!  Chock Full of Calcium!

Nantese Carrots- Yummy!

Peas, Glorious Peas!

Baby Cukes & Squashes

A Hint of Spring on Beth's Plum Tree!!

One of Beth's First Daffodils....this Girl has Hundreds of Daffodils!
So many things to do - so little time!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ready to Quilt

So, in late December, early January I sewed this quilt top.  It's Henry Glass's "Love in Bloom".  The quilt is now ready to be quilted and only waiting for a new sewing machine with a large enough harp to accommodate the fabric!

I'll keep you posted.  I'm going to try out new machines on Thursday in Vegas.....

Ready to FMQ!!
I posted a large enough picture that I hope you can see those little 1" squares at every intersection of the red sashing....what a bugaboo!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Final Valentine's Day Project - and Lessons Learned

This is my final Valentine's Day project; I made 3 candle mats/pot holders that I plan on using for place cards at a Monday night dinner.

Lessons learned this week were painful ones.  First, I learned that when you're in a class, don't ask anyone except the teacher for help.....sometimes what you get from others isn't exactly correct.

Next lesson - my machine really got funky on Saturday afternoon; in fact, it was so bad (bird nesting and I heard metal on metal from the bobbin case) I immediately took it into the local sewing machine man (about 20 miles from my house).  Fortunately, he straightened out the issue on the spot.  And also advised me the Singer bobbins I'd been using in conjunction with the latest new needle I put on the machine were likely the culprits of my issue.  He asked me, "Do you hear a ticky-ticky-ticky sound from your bobbin housing when you sew?"  Of course, I replied, "All the time!"  So, he informed me the Singer bobbin was too small for the housing.  He GAVE me 6 Elna bobbins, which (my machine is a Brother) still aren't correct, but are a heck of a lot closer to fitting the bobbin case than the ones I previously used.  (I ordered 50 new brother bobbins today online!)  So, add one more variable to be checked when FMQ goes haywire.....and now for the finished products:

3 little gems; one for Peggy, one for Sandie and one for AnneMarie

Stippling is getting more even!  Improvement!!  Woot!  Woot! 
So, done with Valentine's Day - on to....who knows?

Quilt on........

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recently my teacher in my quilting class told us about a program offered in Arizona called "Bountiful Baskets".  It's a co-op of farmers who produce fruits and veggies around the country as well as Mexico and Central America.

For a donation of $15 every two weeks, fresh fruits and veggies are delivered locally for pick up by participants.  Since my husband and I began eating a plant-based diet about 5 weeks ago, I thought I'd give it a try.

To my most pleasant surprise, here's what I got:  8 apples, 5 pears, 3 bananas, 1 pineapple, 2 bunches of celery, two heads of romaine, 3 eggplants, 1 bunch of baby asparagus, 4 giant ears of corn, 1 giant bunch of broccoli and a basket of mushrooms.  I also opted to purchase 5 loaves of organic 9-grain bread for $10.50.  Take a look at the pictures below that show the fresh fruit.

Bountiful Baskets is not available in all states, however,  everyone should logon and check availability in their city/state.  It's the best bargain I've gotten in a long, long time!

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh...

Beautiful Fruits & Veggies

And here's the Organic 9-Grain Bread!      

All the baskets at the pick-up site are loaded by volunteers who coordinate and distribute the baskets.  Seems like a very worthwhile venture to me!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Table Runner - Another Lesson Learned

Leah Day - Congratulations on you article published in "Quilters Newsletter".  Great article!

Completed this table runner yesterday.

There always seems to be a lesson learned when I FMQ.  This table runner used 10" hearts appliqued to 12" squares.  The hearts were appliqued first, then I added batting and backing.  I FMQ the hearts before the background working from the center out.  As I FMQ the background on one of the ends of the runner, I noted some "bagging" almost like the background fabric had stretched.  So, I ripped all the swirls out, then discovered to my dismay, I hadn't pulled the fabric tight when I FMQ'd the heart, thus the background gapped.  I'm thinking wash in some really hot water and dry it - hope it will obfuscate the problem.
Completed Table Runner

See that nasty little "baggage" in the lower left side?
I have 2 more small projects to FMQ tomorrow.  I'm certainly enjoying it much more than when I first began FMQ.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It Runs in the Family

Today, I'm going to show my mom's latest quilts.  These are two of her entries for the upcoming San Joaquin Valley Quilt Guild show "Springtime in the Valley" to be held in Fresno, CA on March 24-25.  Of course, I'll be there.....

Mom's an exceptionally gifted quilter (and I'd like to think it runs in the family; don't know if she'd agree, but that's my point and I'm sticking to it!)  I used to refer to her as the Nazi sewing instructor.  I remember as a kid, her most famous word to me were "Rip it out!"  I actually had a phobia about ripping.  Now that I'm back in the "groove", it's not so bad!

More to follow later today.....I've been working on more free motion quilting projects.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

First Completed FMQ Project!

I've been practicing my FMQ skills for about 2 months now after watching various Leah Day tutorials on the  At first, every time I sat down with my 12" black batted square, my blood pressure went up and I broke into a cold sweat.  After many 12" practice squares, I became fairly comfortable with that format.

However.....when I loaded this project onto my sewing machine, the same symptoms reappeared...but after 3 squares, I was "in the groove".  I even created a couple of designs of my own!  I've also found that by sitting on my big blue exercise ball to FMQ my back doesn't tire and I can swivel my body to stretch my back while quilting.  It also gives me about another 1" of height above my machine over the chair I was using.

The pattern is "For My Valentine" table runner by Shabby Fabrics (Jennifer Bosworth) in Spokane, WA.  Her designs are fresh and slightly challenging.  But well worth the time and effort.

My own design...
Triangles & echoes
Circles & swirls
Hearts & curliques
Hearts & echoes
Chain of hearts
And now, for the finished project.... (with my toes included)  Ta-Dah!